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Making the health of your brain a priority is important for supporting brain function and mental activity throughout your life. There are many facets of brain health, including good nutrition, plenty of sleep, physical activity and mental exercises. In addition, you may use herbal medicine as a supplemental therapy for improving memory and brain health.
These herbs may benefit the brain by increasing cerebral circulation. This organ uses 25 percent of the body's oxygen supply and 20 percent of the blood supply. Ensuring that plenty of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood is circulating to the brain is essential for proper brain functioning. Herbs can also offer support by supplying antioxidants to protect brain cells from free radical damage, by stimulating the central nervous system, and by acting as an important source of nutrients for brain health, including B vitamins, vitamin C and manganese.
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List of Beneficial Herbs for the Brain
Try adding one or more of the following herbs to your diet to improve memory and brain health. Drink a cup of tea a day to support optimal mental functioning, use some of these herbs in your cooking, or even take them as natural herbal supplements.
- Rosemary improves circulation to the brain and stimulates the nervous system. It is also very high in antioxidants.
- Sage is an age-old remedy for improving brain function. It stimulates the central nervous system and is an excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients.
- Ginger stimulates digestion and circulation.
- Garlic is a good source of antioxidants. Eating fresh garlic, or taking in supplement form also help to improve circulation.
- Ginseng increases adrenal health and circulation and is a good source of plant estrogens which supports brain health.
- Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the brain and tissue oxygenation. Ginkgo is possibly one of the best herbs to use for improving memory and it may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
- Gotu kola stimulates the central nervous system.
- Calamus root is an Ayurvedic brain tonic, improving circulation.
- Cayenne is another herb that is excellent for stimulating circulation.
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Tips for Use
While you will have the best results by making herbal medicine a regular part of your life, some plants are not suited for long-term use, especially if you have certain medical conditions. Talk to your doctor before taking herbs for memory, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking any type of medication, prescription or over-the-counter. Try alternating between different plants, drinking a rosemary and sage infusion for example, and then supplementing with a trusted source of ginkgo or ginseng.
Enjoy the benefits of these natural herbs to improve memory, but also make sure you are eating a nutrient and fiber-rich diet, getting regular exercise, such as a brisk walk each day, and most importantly, using your mind — spend time each day reading, learning something new, talking with others, or having fun playing mentally-challenging games.
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"Sage Improves Memory, Study Shows." (Science Daily, September 1, 2003) <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030901091846.htm>
Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone." Eleventh Edition (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
photo by Taz
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